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New Forest coast

Towns, villages and places of interest - an introduction

Yachts moored beside Hurst Spit
Yachts moored beside Hurst Spit

Many people when visiting the New Forest tend to stay within the historic central area where can be found the famous ancient woodlands, colourful heathlands and gravel-bottomed streams frequented by ponies, pigs, cattle and deer. And that's perhaps no surprise for these, after all, are what is expected of the traditional New Forest.

Yet there's a different, equally attractive world out there, strung out along the National Park coastline, where the scenery is certainly impressive, the views rarely disappoint and the air is often bracing (but generally not too much so)!

And the wildlife: wow, that's varied and in places absolutely abundant. Waders and wildfowl, for example, feed on the mudflats in huge numbers, particularly in winter. Spring and summer bring terns from afar to breed on these shores, and there's always a chance of seeing scarcer species like avocets and marsh harriers, too.

There is also much of historical interest to fascinate and intrigue, centuries-old fortifications such as Calshot Castle and Hurst Castle, the remains of aged salterns, and Buckland Rings, an Iron Age hill fort that dates back 2,000 years, and more.

Don't forget to visit Lymington, either, where shops of all descriptions can be found and a bustling street market enjoyed. Pubs and restaurants offer varied fare amidst a wealth of splendid Georgian architecture, and the quay provides plentiful opportunities to sit and relax whilst watching the world go by.

Here, then, are some of the coastal towns, villages and places of interest that will repay a visit with enjoyment on the day and a great many pleasant memories to store and take away. Not all are within the New Forest National Park boundary, but all are certainly worthy of inclusion.

Coastal towns, villages and places of interest

Beaulieu and Buckler's Hard - untold charm, lots of character and fascinating history
Buckland Rings - an Iron Age hill fort on the outskirts of Lymington
Calshot Castle - a Henrican castle built to help defend Southampton
Eling tide mill and parish church - one of only a small number of regularly worked tide mills in the world and a historic parish church
Hengistbury Head - sea, sand, history, walks and magnificent views
Hurst Castle and the Spit - originally a 16th century coastal fortress, a wild shingle spit and a long lost community
Keyhaven - an ancient quay that is now a haven for walkers and wildlife
Lepe Country Park - a great day out for all the family
Lymington - coastal delights and Georgian splendour
Mudeford Quay - nautical traditions with a quayside café and pub
New Forest coast map - showing towns, villages and places of interest

References:
The Salterns of the Lymington Area: Arthur T. Lloyd
Hurst Castle - An Illustrated History: Jude James
Smuggling in Hampshire and Dorset 1700-1850: Geoffrey Morley
Eling Tide Mill - The history of a working mill: Diana Smith
Calshot Castle: English Heritage


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Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley